By Ann Purcell author of Let Your Soul Sing, Enlightenment is for Everyone
Yoga has become so mainstream today that it is even offered at my family’s tennis and beach club. Almost every time I tell someone I meditate, their immediate response is, “I practice yoga!”
When I ask them about what type of yoga they do, they always mention some type of physical postures, but rarely does their practice involve any type of meditation.
In ancient India, where the tradition of yoga originated, the understanding of yoga (literally union) means the union of mind, intellect, emotions, and body, and union of the individual with the universal. It is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, which serves to unite and integrate all aspects of life into wholeness.
The ultimate goal of yoga is enlightenment whereby one is living unity consciousness—a state in which one realizes the supreme oneness of life in terms in one’s self. In this state, no diversity of life is able to overshadow this essential oneness.
In the ancient Vedic literature, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (1.2) say that yogaś citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ “Yoga is the complete settling of the activity of the mind.”
After doing an hour of yoga exercise, one does feel more settled and clear, and it is extremely beneficial to the mind, body, and spirit. However, the deepest experience of that complete settling of the mind is the experience of transcendental consciousness—one’s pure silent being.
The settled state of transcendental consciousness unites the mind, intellect, emotions, and body. This state is also an experience of union of the individual with the universal. Empirically, this unity or coherence can be seen in increased brainwave coherence between the left and right hemispheres. Transcendental consciousness can be effortlessly experienced through the technique of Transcendental Meditation.
I say effortlessly, because many of the people who tell me that they do yoga have also tried other meditation techniques, but find it difficult to settle down—they are restless and have lots of thoughts.
The experience of unity and inner peace grows over time, first in meditation and then even in activity, eventually resulting in the permanent experience of unity consciousness. The more your activity is infused with the silent level of the transcendent, or unity, the more smoothly and effortlessly every aspect of your life will flow in the evolutionary direction, leading to greater success and fulfillment. This is the growing state of enlightenment and the true goal of the practice of Yoga!